Book Review: How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big by Scott Adams

How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big: Kind of the Story of My Life
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What's the book about?

The author Scott Adams, the Dilbert comic strip creator, shares his journey from an office worker, through a series of failures, to creating one of the world’s most famous comic strips.

Adams shares his journey and the lessons that he’s learnt from each mistake and failure (of which there have been many). His decidedly pragmatic advice focuses on simple systems and ensuring that you execute your ideas.



What problem does the book help you solve?

The book offers very sound and pragmatic advice to help you tease out your natural strengths, and encourage you to apply those strengths with a process that helps you improve your life.

Adams gracefully makes it clear where you’re likely to be wasting your time on habits and behaviours that are simply wrong for you.

If you feel you’re running up a hill whilst running your business, you might be making life difficult for yourself. You might be blaming fate, bad karma or poor luck. This book can help you spot if you are, and suggests changes that would benefit you.


What's the most useful part of this book?

Teaching you to focus on having a system and not a goal.

This idea first came from a discussion Adams had with a successful businessman. Now a CEO, the businessman would start looking for a better job each time he started a new job.

The job-seeking was an ongoing process based on the assumption that the ideal job would not be available at precisely the time you were looking for it.

In most cases, those people who have done well have done so by creating systems. This is because he feels that “goal-orientated people exist in a state of nearly continuous failure that they hope will be temporary“.

A system is simply “something that you do on a regular basis that increases your odds of happiness, in the long run, “. Since systems do not have a deadline, you’re constantly applying something to improve your happiness.


What 3 lessons have you learnt from the book?

1. Focus on your natural strengths

If you’re someone who can put in daily practice, then pursue something that benefits from daily practice. If you’re “not a natural practicer, don’t waste time pursuing a strategy that requires it“. If daily practice (or habits) are difficult for you to stick to, then choose a life strategy that rewards novelty-seeking more than mindless repetition.


2) If you continue to not succeed, look for a pattern

Adams tells a story of how he would consistently lose games of Tennis when playing against a particular friend. Even after a number of years as he became more skilled, he lost against this friend. Eventually, he figured it out. Adams was consistently taking shots that were highly likely to fail despite the illusion of them being easy. He spotted the pattern in his mistake and learned to take a different (and easier) shot. He started to win!

The story suggests that if you’re consistently failing, then you need to look for the pattern and then change it.


3) There’s no virtue in persisting with something that doesn’t work

Adams encourages you to sample and try ideas to see what works or what you like. However, he’s learned that every project usually starts out well, but learning when to quit takes practice. “Failures rarely grow into successes”.


Who would you recommend this book to?

This book is particularly useful for business owners who want to learn from someone who has worked-through challenges to achieve success.

Adams shares how he has moved on from his failures, and there are lessons from each one. If you want to learn more about resilience and how to work your way out of problems, there are plenty of examples in this book that can help.

This book will inspire you to use systems rather than goals to move your life, and offers a fresh perspective on how to stop doing the things that work against you.

How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big: Kind of the Story of My Life
Buy Now
We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.